Friday, July 13, 2018

Federalism: Duterte's Federal Transition Commission can be abused to operate as a constitutionalized authoritarian junta.

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OPINION: Landmines in the Duterte draft Constitution
By Ellen T. Tordesillas
Posted at Jul 11 2018 05:43 PM

Let’s be clear about this: The draft Constitution written by a the 22-member Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution submitted to President Duterte Monday is not the Constitution that will be submitted to the people for a referendum.

READ: Con-Com's final draft of PH federal constitution

It is Congress or a Constitutional Convention that can propose changes to the Constitution that will be approved by majority of the Filipino people in a plebiscite.

But this draft is important because we now see what Duterte wants. And as former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said, it is in the Transitory Provisions, which in the original copy submitted to Malacañang “1) allow the President to reorganise and assume ALL powers of government; 2) allows him to do what he really wants: assume the powers of a revolutionary government; 3) term extension."

The Consultative Committee’s Media Office immediately announced that the Transitory Provisions shall be reviewed and revised in accordance with the President’s instructions.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also stressed that in his press conference: “Also the ConCom was instructed by the President to revise the transitory provisions, because the President wants to provide for an elective transition leader since he articulated in the Cabinet that he will no longer serve as a transition leader. He wants to step down as soon as the people have ratified the federal constitution, and he wants someone younger to be elected by the people to serve as a transition leader.”

I imagine that there is not just one landmine in that draft Constitution that should be scrutinized by experts for the benefit of the Filipino people. Here’s a part of the Transitory provisions:

"Consultative Committee (Article XXII)

SECTION 1. (a) For an orderly transition to the new system of government as provided for in the Constitution, there shall be created a Federal Transition Commission, composed of the following members:

1) The President, who shall be the Federal Transition Commission Chairman; and

2) Ten (10) members who are natural-born citizens of the Philippines, at least forty (40) years of age, and with proven probity, integrity, independence, and expertise in the fields of economy, law, fiscal management, governance, or development.

(b) There shall be a search committee to be headed by the Chairperson of the Federal Civil Service Commission, and four (4) other members representing the academe, business, marginalized sectors, and women. The President shall appoint the members of the committee. The committee shall search, screen, and recommend to the President members of the Federal Transition Commission within thirty (30) days. The President shall appoint the members of the Federal Transition Commission.

(c) The Federal Transition Commission shall convene within five (5) days from their constitution and promulgate its own rules of procedure.

(d) The Federal Transition Commission shall have the power to establish its office, appoint and hire its own officials and employees, as may be necessary.

(e) The initial budget of the Federal Transition Commission shall be taken from the contingent fund of the Office of the President and from the savings of the Executive Department. Its budget for the succeeding years shall be included in the budget of the Office of the President.

(f) All the living past Presidents may be consulted by the Transition Commission.

(g) The Federal Transition Commission shall complete its mandate by June 30, 2022.

SECTION 2. The Federal Transition Commission shall have the following powers and duties:

(a) To formulate and adopt a transition plan for the orderly shift to the new system of government as provided for in the Constitution. The transition plan shall be published in the Official Gazette and in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation, and any digital platform chosen by the Transition Commission;

(b) For the proper execution of the transition plan, it shall promulgate the necessary rules, regulations, orders, decrees, proclamations, and other issuances, do all acts to implement the same, and resolve all issues and disputes that may arise therefrom;

(c) To organize, reorganize and fully establish the Federal Government and the governments of the Federated Regions, in accordance with the Constitution; (d) To exercise all powers necessary and proper to ensure a smooth, speedy and successful transition.”

Be alert. Be informed.

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